Click Here To Listen To The Retirement Tax Services Podcast


  • How P.J. decided to add tax preparation to his financial planning services. (2:10)
  • What tax reduction planning is and how he uses specific meetings to help clients with it. (4:55)
  • Problems that arise when negative tax situations come up. (7:22)
  • The benefits of having everything under one roof. (9:07)
  • Why collaboration and learning together is important to your growth and value. (11:13)
  • His experience with an in-house tax team and why he’s changing things up a bit. (13:32)
  • Why you need to be committed to taking the next step and continually improving. (17:52)
  • Where to start when you want to start providing tax prep. (20:18)
  • The steps in P.J.’s tax planning process. (23:14)
  • Next steps in growing and improving his practice. (26:57)


My guest today has had taxes as part of his comprehensive approach to serving his clients for a long time, and he has some great insight to offer on the topic. P.J. DiNuzzo joins the show to share his background, how he decided to add tax preparation to his services, and important lessons he has learned along the way. His experience incorporating tax planning and prep into his practice is unique and a great example of how valuable (and sometimes complicated) it can be.

Listen in to learn about how P.J. implements tax reduction planning meetings with his clients, as well as what he does to move the needle in that area. He also discusses the benefits of having blended planning between tax, wealth and investment planning, the key to consistent growth while providing incredible value to your clients, and more.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

A surprise at tax time will come up, and those negative emotions are just strong. - Steven Jarvis Click To Tweet There’s a lot of magic that happens when you can coordinate those conversations between tax, wealth and investment planning. - P.J. DiNuzzo Click To Tweet We are adamant in onboarding that we want to do every clients' taxes now. - P.J. DiNuzzo Click To Tweet

About Retirement Tax Services:

Steven and his guests share more tax-planning insights in today’s Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Feedback, unusual tax-planning stories, and suggestions for future guests can be sent to

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Thank you for listening.

Read The Transcript Below:

We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.

Steven Jarvis: Hello everyone, and welcome to the next episode of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast, financial professionals’ edition. I am your host, Steven Jarvis, CPA, and in this show, I teach financial advisors how to deliver massive value to their clients through tax planning.

I’m really excited to have with me on the show today, someone I consider to be a legend in the industry because of his long-time commitment to having taxes as part of his comprehensive approach to serving clients, to truly delivering massive value.

So, P.J. DiNuzzo, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have this conversation with you.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Hey Steven, thank you very much for having me, very happy to be on board today. Thank you.

Steven Jarvis: P.J., you and I have had the chance to work together, to collaborate in a lot of different ways. And we’ll talk about some of those. But originally, we got introduced through my brother, Matt Jarvis, who is well-known in the industry in his own right.

But when he told me that I needed to meet you, his compliments were endless of “Here is somebody you have to know, somebody you have to talk to” for a lot of reasons, but in part, because in your approach to serving families, you’ve emphasized a comprehensive approach, which includes tax planning.

And so, what I would love to hear is kind of your background on how you arrived at a point where you knew this was something you needed to commit to.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: I’ll try to make it (thank you, Steven) as brief as possible. I founded our practice in 1989 with $0. And that was right after Congress passed the law in 1988. So, I was probably one of first, 2, 3, 400 individuals in the door and operating, hanging a shingle as a registered investment advisor in the SEC.

And it came to me early on that, for whatever reason, I’ve always been really good with numbers, but I’m not going to try to outperform other people. And it’s not an investment conversation, but what I came up initially was the market’s pretty, gosh darn efficient.

And I’m just going to go with the efficiency to market. And if I could be two out of three or three out of four people of the average 10-year period of time, check, that box is checked off.

So, I said I’m not going to be leading with investments or outperformance or what have you. I said how I’m going to add value, we’re going to differentiate our firm is on the planning side. So, that was almost like from the embryonic stages from the very beginning and tax planning is really at the tip of the spear, so to speak.

So, started practicing ‘89. I got plenty evenings and weekends for, I think it was like 1994, 1995, 1996 — I’m sort of like giving away my age here. But I went for three years, I got my master’s in tax law. So, there’s like the old saying “Actions speak louder and words.”

So, we were focusing on this in the early 1990s and as you know, I’m preaching the choir, but we had just a ton of value through our tax mitigation, tax reduction planning meetings. And it’s really what we call an integrated tax return where we’re doing the tax reduction planning meetings.

We start June 1st every year, and we try to get them wrapped up by the end of November where we’re doing the planning for the following year. And then we ideally love to do the tax return.

And as you’ve seen, Steven, more times than I have, you make great planning recommendations, and then the CPA, the tax advisor doesn’t put it on the tax return. They don’t get it to the finish line.

So, we got done getting frustrated with that decades ago and started to prepare tax returns in-house. Now, we do work with you, with your service, which I highly recommend to folks to take a look at Retirement Tax Services with Steven as an adjunct to us in our preparation and the expertise.

But yeah, so basically, I started in 1989 in tax mitigation, tax preparation has been right at the tip of the spear along with wealth planning since day one.

Steven Jarvis: So many good things you mentioned there. I certainly appreciate the shout out. Yeah, we really enjoyed collaborating with your team and to be able to kind of a add to the great stuff you’re already doing, but you mentioned that you start June 1st with doing these tax reduction planning meetings.

I love that you do, but that’s kind of a broad statement of, “Hey, we do tax reduction planning.” What are some of the specific things you’re getting in and looking at? What are the ways that you’re moving the needle for clients through those meetings?

    P.J. DiNuzzo: We’re just going down through … we’ve got a proprietary two to three dozen checkpoints we go through, and just really going through, and it’s the customization, it’s different every time as far as the values we can add.

As you know, you’ll go through 30 cases in a row, Steven, won’t be anything that you’ve got a backdoor Roth IRA opportunity, or leaving money in an account. We’ve even transferred money back into a 401(k) or 403(b) for planning purposes.

But everything across the board. I mean health savings account, HSAs, I mean, there’s no amount — and advisors get upset with this. We love it because we’re on the receiving end, the good side of it.

But I learned a long time ago, and our wealth planning team, the investment team is like … oh, we go the heck, “We just saved them how much in whatever it could have been.”

But the tax team, when they do the tax return, and Ken who heads up our tax team, I said, “Man, Ken, the clients were singing your praises, singing your accolades. So, what the heck happened in his tax reduction planning meeting?”

He’s like, “Oh, triple header, we got a triple header.” I’m like, “What happened?” He says, “Oh, we saved them $400 in federal, a couple hundred dollars in state, and $27 in local.” I’m like we made these people $255,000 in our investment portfolio last year and they want to make him mayor of the city for the day or something.

But yeah, clients are very sensitive. There’s nothing that they fear — I don’t mean in a bad way, but the IRS is at the very top of their list of things that people want to avoid and don’t want to hit a trip wire. So, yeah, like I said, going through those meetings and you and I have really spelled those out.

Steven and I collaborated, co-authored a book that we’re looking to come out here at the fourth quarter of this year, titled very eloquently, Don’t Get Killed on Taxes. You know where we’re coming from — but in that, yeah, we’ve got a lot of the items on our tax reduction planning checklist, on a couple of dozen great ideas.

And these are things that we see people, it doesn’t matter. They could be earning over a million dollars a year and they could be earning $50,000 a year, but just a lot of great points on a lot missed opportunities.

Steven Jarvis: So many great points in there, P.J. The video’s not put out for this, but I was just dying, laughing as you’re talking about that story with Ken, because I’ve definitely been through that before where, I mean, we have a lot … and maybe it’s a few, several hundred dollars compared to a hundreds of thousands of dollars investment returns, but that happens over and over again, that emotional connection to taxes.

That’s highlighting a positive, that you were able to save money. And so, they’re thrilled to death. Unfortunately, I think the opposite happens more often and you alluded to it earlier that planning will go on. It won’t get reported correctly.

And so, there’s a surprise at tax time, there’s an extra tax bill that we weren’t expecting. And those negative emotions are just as strong. Whether it’s your fault or not may — maybe 100%, it was the tax repairer’s fault. Maybe they screwed the whole thing up, maybe it was not your fault at all.

But if the client perceives that you were involved or you should have been involved and didn’t correct it for them, in that negative outcome on taxes, they’re also going to have the same negative reaction of it might have only been several hundred dollars, but man, it’s just a gut punch for people when they have to pay the IRS.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, to be careful, the other way, and even there’s a fine line sometimes because obviously, there’s other income sources coming in that you and I and our teams as tax advisor and preparers aren’t in control of every data point out there as far as what clients are doing.

They tend to do things sometimes and they don’t tell us, what have you, occasionally. But even on Medicare bracket management, just one of the main items you were saying on our tax reduction planning checklist, just managing Medicare brackets, income smoothing, tons of … not tons but a material number of lines on philanthropic, charitable planning, bunching expenses.

And you got to into fresh mind every time because as I said, you can have an item that you haven’t checked that box off for 40 consecutive meetings and then meeting number 41, hey, their number came up and they could save $900 in taxes or 9,000, whatever the number may be.

One of the other things that benefits us too, and I know you work very well and integrate yourself into RIA’s practices, but whenever we’ve got everything under one roof — so our tax planning team can meet with our wealth planning team, which can meet with our investment planning team.

So, I’m not even talking about investments, the actual investment process, but on investment planning. So, we’re talking about tax-loss harvesting, and there’s just an awful lot of magic that happens when you can coordinate those conversation between tax, wealth, and investment when we’re launching portfolios, buys and sells, harvesting.

Harvesting capital gains is another big one on our list. As far as our tax reduction planning meeting, a lot of times, it’s like a blended recipe. We’re going to harvest up to a certain level of capital gains. Then over and above that, we’re going to do Roth conversions.

You know, there’s all these little recipes and checkpoints, but I would just implore the audience members to have someone who’s sensitive where you’ve got the type of practice — and I met numerous people like this at conferences over the last 33 years, that they’re really strong and they want to be a comprehensive planner, they want to bring value to their clients. They want to add value, they want to enhance that client experience as much as possible.

I would say again, with organizations like yours, now, you don’t have to worry about building something out internally like I built out from scratch where you can engage and have a hybrid solution with a firm like yours, Retirement Tax Services. I just feel that strongly about … I mean, tax reduction planning, tax planning, and the integrated tax preparation we do is easily at a minimum, in the tie for number one of our value-add with our clients.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah, I certainly wouldn’t argue with that. I want to go back a little bit to you mentioned a couple of times that you use proprietary checklists for some of this work you do with clients, which I love things that are systematized. But the reason I want to go back to that is we won’t talk about what I was doing in 1989, let’s just leave it at, you have a lot more experience in this industry than I do.

And to your point, I mean, you were doing tax planning early on. And so, really what I want to highlight for listeners is that the people I know who are doing the best work in this industry and probably in any industry, are the ones who are constantly willing to learn from other people and what other people are doing.

Because P.J., I mean, you already have a checklist, you have a tax team in-house. You’ve been doing this for years, but when you and I got introduced, you didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, listen, I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” you just sat back and listened to me.

I’ve learned a ton from you, but you approached it from this collaborative standpoint of, “Hey, what can I learn from this Steven guy?” And to me, that’s such an important mark of people who are really committed to continually elevating, not just their business, but the value they provide to clients, which is why we’ve collaborated on this book that’s meant for taxpayers.

I kind of smile to myself every time I see the title on the working manuscript of Don’t Get Killed in Taxes because yeah, I mean, some of these things we talk about, they’re not going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in tax savings for an individual, but they move the needle especially from an emotional standpoint, but in a real tax savings perspective as well.

And so, there’s so much great stuff in it.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: There’s anxiety around it. Like you said, Steven, what I find is if we’re able to add $900 in value, it’s 900, maybe 2,900 — again, we get in major six figures easily. I mean, there’s cases like that as well.

But the biggest thing I would say is what you mentioned; it’s the behavioral side, I would say — and I’m not embellishing this, but the clients have a great piece of mind, like, “Hey, I’m doing everything I can do and I know like I didn’t miss an opportunity.”

So, you and I either use some of the same language, like who knows what’s going to happen this year, but we’re going to get 35 or 40 more bites at the apple on the next 35 or 40 years of tax returns.

We’re bringing our A game every time and clients really enjoy it like, “Hey maybe I didn’t save as much this year as last year, but I know that I can sleep easily, that my tax advisor turned over every stone looking for savings for me.”

Steven Jarvis: Definitely. Now, P.J., I get a lot of advisors asking me about, well, okay, how do I incorporate tax planning? How do I incorporate tax preparation? And there’s a whole spectrum of what you could possibly do.

I would say what’s less common is what you have is that you have a tax team in-house where you’re doing tax planning and tax preparation, which is great when you can have a good team and that works out. But you even mentioned that you’re also now, collaborating with RTS as an RTS premier member, that we’re going to help with what you’re doing.

So, maybe talk a little bit about what that experience has been like of having a tax team in-house and why you got to a point where you said, even though I have a tax team, I still want to go work with someone like RTS.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, so I mean capacity, which a lot of advisors can relate to, you’ve got capacity constraints or issues or challenges. Also, without taking a sidebar unfortunately, I was partners, I had a CPA who I was working with, who headed up to team. Unfortunately, he passed away, contracted cancer, and passed away in his late forties.

So, when you’ve got a smaller team and heaven forbid, if you lose a key person — so, we’ve got a great nucleus on our tax team we have right now. But also, like I said, to have that hybrid model where with you, the relationship we can like scale that up or scale that down. We could be working together moderately or heavier depending on what our needs are. And also, for having another voice to bounce things off of.

And as you said, our tax team, you’ve got to always be looking at my policy is treat every person that you meet like they’re the most important person on earth. And for that client experience for our clients, we just went … and I know Steve, and I appreciate you had helped us on this; went through like a major software evaluation and we’re upgrading to what we feel very confident about is a massive software improvement.

Now, is that easy for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients? No, it’s not. But again, it gets back down to you place the client’s best interest first and foremost. So, it’s the age old, yeah, one or a couple of steps backwards for a ton of steps forward.

So, yeah, we got to always be sensitive to that client experience. And we feel that the upgrade that we’re going through, which again, that was another way your team helped us out in that evaluation process for the software upgrade that we’re actually using right now, preparing for next year’s returns.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah. So, for advisors listening, I mean, whether you’ve ever considered having tax prep in-house or working with a dedicated resource like RCS or I mean, you have clients that pay taxes. I’m sure everyone listening has clients who pay taxes.

The starting point is that you’ve got to get really clear on that this is an important commitment for you to make as an advisor, to be involved in the tax process somehow. Because if you are making any recommendations that have money involved, taxes are involved. And if it doesn’t get reported to the IRS correctly, it may as well have not have happened.

And so, wherever you’re at on the spectrum, on your journey, you need to make sure you’re really committed to helping your client see this through to the end. And so, that might be building relationships with local CPAs or tax repairers, tax repairers in your niche.

It might be finding somebody that you can hire to come in-house or partnering more directly with an outside party. But you’ve got to start with, “Hey, this is an important …” I mean, like P.J. talked about early in his career, that he realized this was an important commitment to make. And then it’s an evolution from there of what that looks like at different times. But it’s got to be an unwavering commitment to tax planning, is essential to this.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah. And I would just reach out to the listeners in the audience, and I said, like I know I meet a lot of dedicated people who’ve got fire in their eyes, they’ve got fire in their belly and passion in their eyes to serve their clients.

And if you are that firm and you’re looking to … how am I going to differentiate myself and succeed into the future, next five, 10 plus years — again, if you are a comprehensive planner, look at that. You’ve got a place in my mind, tax planning, and then tax preparation right at the very top of the list.

I mean, it’s almost like one of those buttons you could hit, Steven, when it repeats the same thing over and over again. When you go to somebody’s desk in the office … I’m sure as a CPA firm, you may have had something like that, but if you could hit a button, like just a tape recording at … or financial wellness, life coach’s desk to say, “Man, I can’t believe how we did this before we had a tax team.”

I mean, without having everything reviewed, it’s just unbelievable. I mean, I was in two meetings earlier today, and it’s just early afternoon right now that we were looking at the tax team.

And again, these are decisions that every firm is making regarding wealth planning, investment planning, investments. But when you do that tax overlay, just a ton of value you’re able to add.

And like you said, you start with your passion and you crawl before you walk and walk before you run, but they can start, just say, “Hey, I’m just going to focus on five clients for my first year and deliver value,” then you learn, follow your nose and cut your teeth.

But for those ones that have the pass and want to add value to clients, this is at the very top of the list in my estimation.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah, such great advice there, P.J., because wherever you’re at on your journey, the important part is that you’re intentional about taking that next step and there isn’t some magic end of the road on tax planning.

Even though you’ve been doing this for 33 years, you haven’t arrived at a place where you said, “You know what, I know everything, I’m done, I won’t learn anything more.”

Wherever you’re at, it’s this commitment to learning from people around you, seeing what works in practice, and trying, sometimes failing, sometimes having to learn through challenges, that you’re committed to that continual improvement — at the end of the day, all in service of the clients that you work with.

Regardless of what else we talk about, that core value comes back to what does this do for the clients I serve?

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    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, as you mentioned, it’s an evolutionary process and we place a client’s best interest foremost and being in this long in the tooth, so to speak, with this much experience to do a complete upheaval, vis-a-vis the software application and things related to that, you got to be willing to do that.

I mean, that’s happened … your practice and in mine, if you want to say leading edge, if you want to stay best practices — so, yeah, we enjoy … the only thing we know for sure is change is going to be constant. We embrace it, place our client’s best interest first and foremost.

So, yeah, I could suggest that the listeners who are interested, I would just mention, like I said, not to have this overwhelm them. If they’ve got an interest, start with a very small group of your clients and just get through that first year and go through a whole cycle and engage — as you said, it could be potentially like a local CPA firm they got a great working relationship with.

It could be a firm such as yours. They can outsource and work with and work back and forth and some type of toggle. But yeah, they can (I don’t want to say easily, but in my mind) start off with a handful of clients or maybe 10 at the most; they can easily onboard this and learn an awful lot and decide to follow their nose how they want to evolve.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, and the great news for advisors who aren’t as far along as you are with integrating tax planning and tax preparation, is that now, compared to 1989, when you started into this, there’s so many more resources available.

Resources in the form of other people sharing their experiences, of software tools, of service providers. There’s so many more resources to help you hit the easy button.

Now, there’s still going to be work involved, but … and respect for what P.J. has done over 33 years, but you can reasonably expect to be able to get to that level of integration in less than 33 years because you can learn from people like P.J., which is fantastic for those of us who are building this now, and certainly, a credit to the people who did pioneer this when there weren’t as many resources available.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, and there may be more resources. To your point, Steven, there may be more resources that come online or available the last five years and maybe the previous 25 years.

So, yeah, it is very exciting. And these advisors who are listening, they can get up to professional running speed in relatively short order. And that’s very exciting with the resources that are available.

Steven Jarvis: Well, and you mentioned a couple of times, hey, if this seems overwhelming, start with just a subset of your clients, don’t tomorrow decide, hey, I’m going to do tax planning for all of my clients even though I’ve never done any of it before.

Pick your top 5 or 10. This also reinforces where you can get a lot of value out of serving similar clients that now, we can take a sliver of the tax code. And instead of saying, “I need to understand everything and every aspect,” it’s a great … “I need to understand the relevant tax code for doctors or for people who are three years away from retirement or for people in my area.”

Whatever it might be, we can really narrow down what portion of the tax code do I need to start with, and then that’s where I’m going to spend my time, that’s where I’m going to become an expert. And by expert, I just mean that more than your clients do. You don’t have to have written the book on a topic to be considered an expert in the eyes of your clients.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Start with a homogeneous sample, as you said, with a small group. And I would say start with not your five largest clients; cut your teeth on some mezzanine level of clients, something in the mezzanine level, and then get through it.

But that’s a great idea that you have. Yeah, start with a homogenous group where you’re not learning like eight different corners in the octagon to say, “Hey, I’ve got a lot of similarity of learning one area of the tax code” and go from there. That’s great advice.

Steven Jarvis: So, P.J., you mentioned that June 1st is when you kick off these tax reduction planning meetings; are there other specific steps in your tax planning process or is this just kind of timeline of between June 1st and the end of tax season – that’s kind of how long it takes you to get through all of those meetings or are there other kind of milestones that you do for all of your clients?

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, well, the tax reduction plan means … and one other thing that that naturally grows out of this is for the advisors, if they’re looking to incorporate this, now you start looking at your progress meetings completely differently.

So, ideally, our ideal models, we like to have a semi-annual progress meeting or a meeting twice a year. So, obviously, that gets a lot more tax-sensitive or tax-forward as far as the agenda for that semi-annual progress meeting. So, it’s sort of like the gift that keeps on giving. It just builds on itself.

Now, we’re looking for more, we’re talking about more, and they could go in with a key strategy of, we’re just going to discuss again, tax-loss harvesting. Right now, we’re going through a trough type period in stock market as we’re doing the podcast, and there’s always opportunities out there.

Look for the law of polarity, whatever — whatever’s going on, there’s something good on the other side. So, it’s like yeah, we’re discussing in the semi-annual progress meeting, so that’s two opportunities for a high-level tax conversation, the tax reduction planning meeting.

And Steven, you wish that you could just have one meeting, let’s say if you’ve got a model for something, but surprisingly, there’s clients we have tax reduction planning meetings that want a second one or a third one during the course of the year.

So, that does happen a good bit. So, it’s customized. If they do have a more complex situation, some of those folks we’re having two or three with, that we’re doing a year-end communication and getting started the following year.

So, June, when we start off June and July, in some cases that may be the less complex clients. But on the other hand, you’ve got your clients who are sort of if you want to say type A personality or whatever, initials you want to put next and you’re like, “Hey, as soon as you can start, I want to get them right away, let’s start doing that.”

So, we make them happy. We’re getting them in, in June or July, but really, just spread it out because again, we’ve all got capacity to have a nice system, but with all the tools, like we said now before Calendly and different things, it was a whole different world; making phone calls and tracking down people, et cetera. You have just a lot of great tools to help facilitate the process.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah, really appreciate you sharing so much insight on how that process works. I mean, doing 25 and 30-minute podcasts, we go pretty quickly at times and stay pretty high-level.

And I think at times, it can come across as here’s this simple thing that you can apply to every client and just move on. But I appreciate that you’re highlighting that there still is room for customization for this to be a unique and specific experience for the individual clients. That there’s a system to it so that we can do it effectively.

But again, this comes back to how we’re delivering value to the individual clients. And at times, we’re making adjustments and saying, “Okay, great, this client’s got a little bit more complex situation, it’s not just that we’re going to meet with them in June and say, great, we’ll see you next year,” we’re going to customize those things.

And that also kind of speaks to that this is an evolution that you’re going to have to figure out exactly how this fits for your client base. But for the advisors listening, I mean, this is possible to incorporate this level of tax planning along with everything else you’re doing.

Because while my conversation with P.J. today is focused on the tax side, P.J., you do have a comprehensive financial planning practice. Tax is just one of the things you’re doing with clients and the rest of those all fit in during the year as well.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: And just one of the teams that are in the inner circle, yes.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah, that’s really exciting stuff. So, P.J., you talked about how you’re going through this software upgrade with the tax team. What else do you see as kind of where this is headed for your firm, for your team? Whether that’s specific to taxes or more generally, of next steps to come to keep elevating what you’re doing?

    P.J. DiNuzzo: And ours is really incorporating more clients. We’re, at the end of last year, approximately a billion dollars in assets under management, that’s a lot of clients in plain English.

And we really are adamant about onboarding. And again, we take on as many a time, but we love to do every client’s tax return.

Now, we’ll do in rare cases, the tax … because you can only really have one chef in the kitchen. So, you got to be careful. On the tax reduction planning meeting, we like to do the meeting or meetings for tax reduction planning, and the actual, we call it integrated tax return to make sure that that’s hitting the return.

But there’s capacity issues and onboarding clients but we just feel so strongly about the value add and how it ties into our regular client service model for semi-annual progress meetings. And it’s a win-win for the clients, they’re just happy, hey, we’re having three meetings per year right there.

When one, I mean, it’s taxes, the whole entire agenda; and the other one, taxes are above the fold, so to speak, on the agenda for those other two meetings. So, yeah, I mean, it’s just worked out very, very well for us.

And I would imagine for any other RIA out there who would like to incorporate into their practice.

Steven Jarvis: Do you ever have clients who say, “Nah, P.J., I’m good, you don’t need to worry about taxes for me?”

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, until we get them one time. All we get is you just get them one time. It’s like I had one client, we were on board and he’s like, “Ah, you’re too humped up about this – this and everything else. This tax stuff’s overrated, et cetera.”

So, I’m going, “Oh my, this doesn’t make any sense, what that the heck’s going on? I’m like you have not filed a tax return for eight or nine years.” “Yeah, it wasn’t a big deal. P.J. you’re overplaying your hand.” “No, I’m not overplaying my hand. My goodness, you missed out on so many parties as far as tax savings.”

And we’re talking about the behavioral side here, behavioral signs of it. But a lot of times, there’s like a spouse and they’re the one who’s controlling investments. So, like I’m going to do the tax return myself, or I’m going to do it on … I won’t even mention any of the names, but the national softwares as far as tax preparation.

And what’s funny about that is we meet with them and it’s like, “Where did this come from? It doesn’t make any sense?” “Well, when I was going through the software completing my return, it said, if you do this, you’ll save $400 on taxes. And if you do the … yeah, that will save 200, so I clicked on the button and said I’ll save 400.”

Did you do that? Were those expenses there in reality? No, they weren’t. But it was like so compelling. I mean, they hit these buttons. And the tax returns like … it’s like a house that like 14 architects built or something. So, stuff’s all over the place.

But really, I mean, to be able to add through a process like you have or we have, going through that methodical process and integrating that, and I’m not like bragging or anything, but I’m saying it’s 95, 99% of the time — 99.9% of the time, we’re able to add value well over and above what they were previously doing.

And we use the saying … just amazing even professionals, how many of the (I’m old) … it used to be the big eight, big six and it’s less than that now. But even that at the regional firms, they’re basically all out the rear-view mirror.

They’re just looking in the rear-view mirror. You coming after January, the 1st, the draw bridge already came down. There’s no planning to speak of that you can do. Whereas, we’re looking out the front windshield at your practice and mine, and it can seem like a short kind of phrase.

But with us looking out that front windshield proactively before year end, it’s a sea change. It’s just unbelievable how much value — and again, you can only add the value that’s there, but $3,000 is a lot of money to our clients. And to me, that’s a nice piece of change if you can save them $3,000 over and above what they would have done left up to their own devices.

Steven Jarvis: Yeah, absolutely. There’s so much value there. And again, like you said, it’s tangible money in addition to the emotional side of it. But both of those are very real.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, both of sides of the coin, a double win.

Steven Jarvis: But P.J., I mean, you and I could talk for hours about this. Literally we’ve worked together to write a whole book on this more, more to come on that as the year goes on. We’ll definitely be letting everybody know as that’s going to hit the shelves. We’re really excited about that project together.

But we want to make sure that we’re giving everyone listening the clear direction on how to take this information and turn it into value, which is by taking action. So, I already highlighted it earlier, but the biggest thing, the biggest starting place is to make sure that you are taking responsibility for being involved in the tax portion of your client’s lives.

Whether you’re just starting out and, that just means making sure you’re communicating with their tax repairer and letting them know that you did a backdoor Roth contribution or helped them with a QCD or maybe you’re like P.J.’s into the spectrum, and you’ve got this in-house and you’re just continually looking for ways to improve.

That commitment has to be there. And so, to make that a really specific action item, I would say, it needs to be what are you going to do different? Get really clear on what you are going to going to do different this coming tax season to elevate how you are helping clients with taxes.

Again, that can be all across the spectrum. But I think that’s something that we all can do regardless of where we’re at to say, “Okay, what is that one thing …” maybe you’re feeling really ambitious and it’s two or three things, but what is that thing that we can do to elevate how our clients are experiencing taxes this year?

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, make the commitment and have the accountability.

Steven Jarvis: Oh yeah. I love that. I have an accountability is always so-

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, make the commitment and follow through. Have the accountability and don’t bite it off more. Like if you start off with five returns, like we said earlier, just to make that commitment, and just start with five returns your first year.

Steven Jarvis: The other action I’m going to throw out there because I think it’s been a little while since I’ve mentioned it on the podcast, and I know P.J.’s going to be fully in support of this; as part of that commitment, you have to be getting tax returns for all of your clients every single year.

Again, this doesn’t matter if you’re doing tax prep in-house, wherever you’re out on the spectrum, that that has to be nonnegotiable. You are not going to be doing quality tax planning if you don’t have the actual tax return.

So, whether you need to get from zero of your clients to the first 25% getting your tax returns or from 75% to a hundred percent; wherever you’re at, make sure that you are getting tax returns for every single client every single year so that you know that you have the data to be doing great tax planning.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Yeah, 100% endorsement there, Steven, you’re correct.

Steven Jarvis: Well, P.J., I really appreciate your time today and coming on the show and talking about your experience. Thank you so much for being here.

    P.J. DiNuzzo: Oh yeah. Thank you for having me. Love talking about adding value for clients and improving a client experience. I appreciate the opportunity that you offered and afforded me today. Thank you, Steven.

Steven Jarvis: For everyone listening, if you made it this far through the podcast, clearly, you’re getting value out of this. So, take a few minutes, leave us a five-star review and a comment. We love seeing the podcast continue to grow. Thousands of advisors are tuning in to learn more about how to deliver massive value through tax planning.

So, take a minute to do that for us. And until next time, good luck out there. And remember to tip your server, not the IRS.

We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.


The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.

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